That’s all, people.

It’s been something, Mada.

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Sea Turtles and last week at site



This past weekend was our regional volunteer meeting in Nosy be, when I handed off the torch as regional representative to someone else. We saw some pretty great beaches, and went snorkeling with sea turtles. I spent a full hour on Sunday following around a giant sea turtle at about arms length away, it was fantastic. We also buried 2 out of 4 of the guys in the sand, ate crab two days in a row, and I got to say goodbye to one of the most beautiful places in the country.

I only have one week left in my village, then the voyage home begins! (It’ll take a while, I arrive in the US in mid-April)


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Language Resources for PCVs (or anyone!)

I recently got a request to pass along this information about a new language-learning website that sounds like a fantastic project! I’ve copied the email below, because I’m sure I couldn’t describe it as well:

My name is Ray Blakney and I am a RPCV from Mexico.  I am working on a 3rd goal project with the PC regional offices and the main office in DC to try to create an online archive to keep the language training material made all over the world from getting lost.  I have created a sub-section on the website my wife and I run – – with all the information I have been able to get to date (from over the web and sent to me directly by PC staff and PCV’s).  I currently have close to 100 languages with ebooks, audios and even some videos. 
The next step for this project is that I am trying to get the world out about this resource so that it can not only be used by PCV’s or those accepted into the Peace Corps, but also so that when people run across material that is not on the site they can send it to me and I can get it up for everybody to use. 
There should be something there for almost everybody.  It is all 100% free to use and share.  Here is the specific page of the Peace Corps Archive:
Seems like a great resource, so check it out and let me know what you all think!

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Last new place

This weekend I’m in Mahajunga -on the NW coast but considerably further South than where I live. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been here for two years and there are still new cities- even whole regions- that I’ve never been to. If time and money weren’t a limiting factor, I’d also go to the SAVA region (NE of the island), which is famous for it’s vanilla production. Unfortunately I’m not going to get there before I leave (the road is impassable right now and unpleasant during the rest of the year), but I did have a great weekend here with friends walking along the boardwalk, drinking beer and eating fish kebabs.

(Unrelated recent photos. Not even the same region as I’m in now. Or the same friends that I’m visiting. But I’ve retired my camera because it’s 7 years old and takes sub-par photos, so all photos will be recycled for a while)


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Mud season


It now rains all day every day, more or less. I can’t do laundry because my clothes will never dry, and my solar panel doesn’t collect enough power to give me any light at all. My bike ride into town required getting off my bike and carrying it through the mud no less than five times, and I’ve found three scorpions in my house in the past week. On the plus side, it’s good reading weather, people’s rice is thriving, and next week I’m going to visit a friend in a (drier) region I’ve never been to before!


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Welcome AG/HE 2014-2016 Stage!

Welcome to Madagascar! (Special shout-outs to Simone, my mentee, and Lauren, who’s so kindly bringing me a new camera so I can take great photos in Jordan on my way home). I hope you all have a fantastic Pre-Service Training, and I can’t wait to meet some of you soon! (Unrelated photo from the end of my PST when we cooked burgers and potato salad for the kitchen staff. It was delicious, and I think they enjoyed it as well. Can’t believe it was almost two years ago. Funny story, I’m actually wearing the same dress as I type this. I don’t think it’s gonna make it home with me)


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January photo review

I have to catch a plane, but here’s a summary of what happened over the past few weeks:

We had our Close-of-Service conference in Tana (the last time my training group will be all together), got our dates to come home, and had puppy races:


All 25 of us also dressed up like zombies:



Then I went traveling with some friends and a group of red sifakas had a wrestling match:



And we had a 4:30AM canoe ride to see the only primate in the world that lives on water, the grey reed lemur:



And Christina fit in some light reading in the canoe:



Then we went zip-lining!



Awesome week with friends. Getting excited to come home in April!

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New Years never ends


In AwesomeTown, we celebrate New Years on January 8th. (My town is called Maevatanana- maeva means “great,” and “tanana” is town. It was upgraded in the late 1900s from Tsaratanana, “GoodTown.”)

We celebrated by cooking, eating, taking photos, dancing, and killing a goat and 10 chickens. People thought I was lame because I went to go sleep instead of dancing for too long, but at this point, since I’ve lived here for two years and sufficiently proved my integration in other ways, I feel like I’ve earned that right.

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2013 Red Island in review


What did I do in 2013:

Started a school garden in my community
Celebrated my 24th birthday in my village
Taught cacao farmers how to make chocolate by hand
Visited the Madecasse chocolate factory
Canoed down a river, camped on the sand bars
Climbed the tsingy limestone formations
Walked along the avenue of baobabs
Hosted mom and dad here in Mada, showed them my region and my village, and traveled together to new places around the country
Rode horses through desert canyons in the far South
Tasted vanilla tea at the plantation where it was grown
Hiked with ring-tailed lemurs
Got into a taxi-brousse accident
Held a micro-chameleon, the smallest reptile in the world
Helped my local cocoa-growers co-op get Fair For Life certified
Applied to grad school
Celebrated Thanksgiving in the “black hole” region
Started to welcome my replacements
Spent Christmas in my favorite city
Spent New Years with my favorite people in the country

Happy New Year! I’n not super excited to say goodbye to my Malagasy and Peace Corps friends, but I CANNOT wait to see my family and friends in the US in 2014!

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2013 in pictures

Celebrated New Years eve 2013 in Portugal with my favorite people ever!


Spent a lot of time in my village with my kid friends:


Spend a week camping on sand bars along the Tsiribihina river with my favorite volunteer friends:

Morondava 079

Mom and dad came to visit!



Ate lots of seafood:


2013 was a fantastic year, but I’m even more excited for 2014!


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